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Time Erupts but has no Pity

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"Because I'm with you until the end of the line."

It echoes in his head as he slips through the woods.

The man from the bridge, the man he knew, is bleeding sluggishly on the bank of the river, but he's breathing and his friends, the dangerous red haired woman and the man with wings, will be on their way soon. The man will be saved.

He doesn't know why that comforts him.

The woods aren't safe. He makes it several miles before night falls, back into the city. He finds an alley to curl up in. He falls asleep.

He wakes up.

He's still strapped in the chair, the device slowly releasing him. Pierce is frowning and talking of change, of freedom. He knows this speech, he thinks. He just heard it yesterday. Maybe the machine took too much. Maybe he had been dreaming.

He follows orders. Rips the man with wings out of the sky and hurls him at the ground. The motion is familiar. He tries not to dwell on it.

"Please don't make me do this." The man from the bridge begs. He doesn't respond. They fight. He failed his mission before. He's never done that. Maybe that's why he woke up and it was today. He won't make that mistake twice.

It's easier to anticipate the man's moves now that he's seen them before. The man feints left and he's ready, knife in hand. He misses the man's heart by inches.

He still ends up with a broken arm, the snap no less sharp the second time around. This time he aims his gun at the man's head. It only takes one shot. The man from the bridge goes down and does not get back up. The world burns.

Something tugs at his chest, an aching emptiness he's never known before. He tries to brush it off, but it stays, a gaping wound, until he reports back to Pierce. They place a gun to his temple and tell him he's terminated. He doesn't fight.

He wakes up.

The machines whir as they let let him go. Pierce is speaking again. He feels lost. They give him his orders. He ducks out in the chaos. If he fails his mission, he wakes up. If he succeeds, they shoot him, he wakes up. He abandons his mission entirely.

"Your name is James Buchanan Barnes."

He's never had a name before. The museum is empty. People are panicking. He stares at the man who has his face. That man is younger and lighter, but they could be twins. They could be the same person. He reaches out, touches his twin's face, touches the captain's face and can't catch his breath.

Hydra fails. He can't give report with no one left. He can't go to the captain and be someone he's not. He finds an alley. He falls asleep.

He wakes up.

Whirring machines, Pierce's voice. A battle. He doesn't know who he's fighting. He fights the captain harder, angry and frustrated that he keeps waking up. Rage makes him tire faster. Makes him reckless. A beam crushes him into the ship's floor. The captain pulls it off of him.

"You know me."

But he doesn't. And when he can wiggle out from under the beam he sits there and stares at the captain and tries to remember. It makes his head hurt, makes his chest hurt.

Bucky Barnes and Steve Rogers were best friends. But he's not Bucky Barnes. The captain has his hands up, placating, shifting slowly toward him.

The glass shatters and he falls through the sky. The captain is reaching for him, screaming that name. It feels familiar. He hits the water and the metal arm drags him down. He doesn't mind.

He wakes up.

He fights. He throws the winged man from the helicarrier. When he reaches for the man in blue, his flesh arm won't obey. He sees a scrawny kid in his place.

"Do you like getting punched?" The words leave his mouth before he knows he's forming them.

The captain freezes, chokes. Neither of them see the falling beam until it's too late. The angle is wrong. They can't lift it. They're trapped and the carrier is going down fast.

He looks at the man in blue. "Until the end of the line?" It comes out a whisper.

The captain nods, stretching to touch his hand. "Until the end of the line, Buck."

They burn.

He wakes up.

The whirring makes him grit his teeth. He lashes out as soon as he's free. He takes Pierce down before he can start that goddamned speech again. Three more scientists fall before they manage to put him down for good.

He wakes up.

He's tired of this. He wants to sleep. He wants to be Bucky Barnes, he wants to forget everything that happened. He wants to wake up to a new day. He wants to never wake up again. He doesn't know what he wants. He's never been allowed to want before.

He meets the man on the bridge. Captain America. Steve.

"Please. Don't make me do this."

He laughs, a shaky thing that rattles in his chest.

"You never were smart enough to run away from a fight."

He lowers his arm. Steve lowers his shield.

"I don't remember everything." He says it softly, and Steve shakes his head, crosses the bridge to grab him bodily and hug him. It feels right.

Steve places replaces the chip and grabs his hand.

"That's ok, because I do."

They jump into the water.

He wakes up.

There's no whirring. No machines. No Pierce. Only the steady in and out of Steve's breathing. It's a new day.